Although we have temporarily returned to fully online learning, the show must go on. One of the more “colourful” experiments in chemistry is the one where students try to identify everyday household items as either acidic or basic, and not having access to a lab wasn’t going to stop the grade ten science class from the experience. Having “commandeered” some basic pieces of equipment (test tubes, litmus paper, and a funnel) the identifying acids and bases lab was relocated to my kitchen. Students were given a list of everyday household items (vinegar, pepsi, lemon juice, liquid soap, baking soda, orange juice, mouth wash, and milk) and had to hypothesize whether they were acids or bases.
Each substance was reacted with a bit of red cabbage juice, which contains a natural pH indicator that changes colors depending on the acidity of the solution (very acidic solutions turn the indicator a red color, and basic solutions a greenish-yellow color). This gave students a quick, surface level indication of whether the substance was an acid or a base. To be a bit more accurate, however, we also tested the pH of each substance using a piece of litmus paper. This lab nicely sets up our next experiment where we will look at the applications of acid base reactions.